From Midnight Sun, you might expect a run-of-the-mill teenage rom-com, and clichés are in abundance throughout. But it's got more up its sleeve than your traditional teen drama.

Naïve viewers might walk into the latest venture by filmmaker and music video director Scott Speer expecting a run-of-the-mill teenage rom-com, and clichés are in abundance throughout the hour and half that follows. Despite this, Midnight Sun still manages to surprise in its delivery, and will leave the watcher deliberating long after the final credits.

Katie Price (played by former Disney star Bella Thorne) suffers from a rare genetic disease called xeroderma pigmentosum (referred to as XP during the film), which gives her a life-threatening sensitivity to sunlight. Living a sheltered life, Katie grows up with a restricted view of the outside world and has only her over-protective father and quirky best friend to distract her from her monotonous circumstances: until she meets Charlie (played by Patrick Schwarzenegger). Enter the stereotypical high school heartthrob, who Katie has had a crush on ever since he started riding past her window on his way to school.

What follows is conventional and unexceptional: boy meets girl, they fall in love and ogle at each other with puppy dog eyes. The mystique of Katie’s condition is hidden, as these interactions develop under the shrouded cloak of darkness (cue nod to fans of vampire fiction). Naturally, a good proportion of the movie is spent cringing into your seat at the clichéd and sometimes gag-inducing dialogue. Mentions of the abbreviated ‘XP’ seem to imply our main character is suffering from some form of old-school computer software rather than a serious illness. Mid way through however, the plot suddenly turns very sincere. Before you know it, the viewer is taken on an unexpected and potentially unwanted roller-coaster of emotion as the story evolves into a teenager’s quest for a normal life.

Elements of Disney pop princess are peppered throughout the script, undeniably giving Thorne a platform to showcase her musical talents through Katie’s natural love of music. The results are a jovial and upbeat soundtrack with lyrics loosely entwined with storyline. Thorne’s voice, although not exceptional, works for this type of performance and despite your best efforts, the tunes will likely jangle round in your head for a few days afterwards. Her general performance demonstrates a natural comic timing and her ability to play a convincing awkward teenage dominates the film.

Midnight Sun is fundamentally surprising. This works in its favour and contributes to its idiosyncratic charm. However, the prevailing issue is the almost conflicting delivery of its plot, resulting in it falling at a strange crossroads between different genres. It presents as a light-hearted, upbeat teenage romance story about first true love, and also attempts to tackle a tale about living with a life-threatening disease. Perhaps an intentional decision by Speer to reflect the main character’s positive outlook on life, but it leads to confusion in the audience’s emotional response to the story.

In truth, the main twist adds depth to a narrative which has only been successfully attempted in a handful of other feature films, and the strongest moments are when it is trying to be more than a teenage love story. If you want a happy, light-hearted experience where you leave feeling carefree, I would recommend you watch another film as you will not get that in Midnight Sun.

★★★☆☆